Ferguson gathers in prayer, protest as police manhunt continues

Ferguson gathers in prayer, protest as police manhunt continues

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As a manhunt for those responsible for the overnight shooting of two police officers in Ferguson continues, activists gathered Thursday evening for a prayer vigil and continued demonstrations at the Ferguson Police Department.

A large crowd, many holding candles, gathered near police headquarters for the vigil. While participants condemned the shooting of the two officers, they also called for justice for the multiple unarmed black men who had been fatally shot by police in recent months, including Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice.

“For over 200 days we’ve cried out for justice and we got none, for 200 days we cried out for peace and we received little,” Pastor Robert White of Peace of Mind Church in St. Louis told the crowd, which was speckled with news cameras. “We don’t want a system, we want sensibility.”

It’s been 215 days since former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, whose death sparked months of nationwide protests and the blistering Department of Justice report released last week that described endemic racism within the Ferguson police force.

That report has prompted a huge shakeup within Ferguson leadership. Before the early morning shooting of a 32-year-old officer from Webster Groves who was shot in the face and a 41-year-old officer from St. Louis County who was shot in the shoulder, Police Chief Tom Jackson announced his resignation. The city manager and other key officials did so earlier this week.

Authorities could be seen overlooking the street where the bullets came from around midnight as protesters gathered at the department’s headquarters.

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Killings by Police Ferguson

Protesters gather across the street from the Ferguson Police Department, Thursday, March 12, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo.

Image: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

In addition to the bolstered police troops, which came from multiple agencies, there was a heavy presence of media at the station, early on, journalists outnumbered protesters.

Killings by Police Ferguson

Members of the St. Louis County Police Department walk through a crowd of protesters trying to move them out of the street in front of the Ferguson Police Department, Thursday, March 12, 2015, in Ferguson, Mo.

Image: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Well-known protesters also took time out to speak on camera. As did police.

Authorities brought in multiple people for questioning Thursday in connection to the shooting after a SWAT team surrounded a Ferguson home that officials confirmed was part of their ongoing investigation, but they were later released, according to local media.

At the vigil, activists touched upon the importance of their continued opposition, but also underlined the need for peace.

“We reclaim this space for justice and we reclaim this space for peace,” Rev. Starsky Wilson of Saint John’s United Church of Christ in Saint Charles, Missouri, said. “We recognize that peace is something already in our hearts, but not yet in our community.”

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Protesters also brought back chants heard for months after Brown’s shooting, such as “Hands up, Don’t Shoot!” and “Shut it down!”, as they made their way to the police headquarters, blocking traffic.

The Missouri Highway Patrol and St. Louis County Police have assumed command of security, but the Ferguson Police Department continues to conduct regular policing.

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